Tag Archives: Taylor Gabriel

Browns Trying to Avoid a Disaster

I did my best, readers. In writing these previews I always tried to keep my head up and look at the positives, well I can’t anymore. I honestly feel this game could be the worst Browns game played since Bruce Gradkowki started for us.

When the Browns have the ball:

 Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns signals to the sidelines during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 1, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns signals to the sidelines during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 1, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

It is going to be really tough for Johnny Manziel to get anything going against this defense for a number of reasons. First, Manziel will be without receivers Brian Hartline and Andrew Hawkins. This leaves Manziel only Benjamin, Gabriel, and Dwayne Bowe to throw to. Second, the Bengals defense is quite good at playing defense, only allowing 18.9 points per game. And finally, I just don’t think Manziel is good enough to move the ball especially since the running game is anemic. The offensive line was struggling to protect McCown, who has been  doing nicely under pressure. Manziel on the other hand has yet to show he can make good decisions, and often turns the ball over under heat. This team will struggle to put up more than 14 points this Thursday night.

When the Bengals have the ball:

The Bengals should be able to torch our secondary that will be with out Joe Haden, Donte Whitner, and perhaps without Tashaun Gipson. Unlike previous years, Andy Dalton has all of weapons healthy and ready. A.J Green, Marvin Jones, and Tyler Eifert will be able to force favorable match-ups and they all have big play ability. In addition to there passing attack the Bengals possess a two-headed rushing attack that could demolish the Browns league worst rushing defense. The Bengals should be able to score quickly and easily this Thursday.


In a performance that will make Mike Pettine’s and Ray Farmer’s seat a lot hotter, the Browns will lose to the Bengals 38-9 partly due to four

Manziel turnovers.

Cleveland Browns Ten Best of 2014

Well, here we are again. The door has finally closed on the most recent Browns season. It may actually be more appropriate to say that the lid has finally been closed on the casket, but hey, semantics. 2014 ended much the same way that every season seemingly ends. The Browns strolled into one of their rival’s stadiums with their third string quarterback while nursing a massive losing streak, and proceeded to put up a valiant (pathetic) performance that came up short.

In what has become the saddest, most infuriating and depressing holiday tradition around these parts, the Browns train flew off the tracks halfway through the season and careened down the hillside in flames. The details of this particular fiery wreck were a little different than seasons past, as is normally the case, but the end result was eerily familiar. The only thing that is slightly unfamiliar to me is that I have to write about it this year for an adoring public clamoring for my thoughts on the year that was.

(Deliberate pause for everyone to get in their prolonged eye rolls)

As is the case with an NFL season, especially one involving the team that plays on the Northern edge of downtown Cleveland, there is so much that happens that trying to pack it all into one article would be borderline irresponsible. It would also eat up content that could be stretched out for a few weeks, but let’s go with the previous sentence. It sounds much better. That being said, over the next month or so I’ll be taking a look back at all things 2014 Cleveland Browns before we get to start talking about the offseason and our favorite civic past time which is, of course, the NFL Draft. Today I’ll be starting off with the positive and counting down the Cleveland Browns ten best of 2014.

10. Kyle Shanahan

We’ll start things off with the Browns young offensive coordinator. Granted, there were some issues with his offense that showed after starting center Alex Mack went down, but I have to say that I really do like his offense overall and saw a lot of positives that give me hope for the future. He’ll be getting interviews for Head Coaching jobs elsewhere, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if he actually landed on of them, but if he comes back the Browns will have a year under their belt with him and I would be willing to bet the Browns offense improves come next season. If you look at what he did, especially early on, with some limitations at certain positions and his ability to adjust, I have to give a very positive review of Kyle Shanahan’s job in his first season with the team.

9. “Scrap Heap” Wide Receiver Acquisitions

I wasn’t exactly sure how to title this one. When I made my list for this I ended up with fourteen players and coaches that I wanted to mention. Unfortunately, a top fourteen list doesn’t quite have the ring to it that a top ten list does, so I had to make some edits. The first of those was combining three guys that I thought clearly needed to be mentioned into one item. Those guys, in no particular order, are Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, and Miles Austin. These three were each acquired through different ways and all made their mark at a position that was thought to be among the worst on the team.

To be clear, none of these receivers will be mistaken for an elite player. But each of them were extremely pleasant surprises that had very good first seasons with the Browns. There were big plays made by all of them, they brought a sure handedness that we had been sorely lacking, and I would wholeheartedly support all three of them being back next season. As sad as it is, there aren’t many receivers that have played for the Browns the past decade or so that I could say any of those things about, let alone all three.

8. Karlos Dansby

One of the big offseason acquisitions for the Browns, Dansby was brought in for both his on field performance and his veteran presence in the locker room. And he exceeded all expectations that I had for both of those things. He may have been higher on this list had his season not been cut short by injury, but there is no doubt that the signing of Karlos Dansby was an incredibly important one for the development of a winning culture, and there is also no doubt that he still has something left in the tank.

7. Paul Kruger

After signing a huge free agent deal and having a disappointing first season, Kruger came back in a big way this year. He was a guy that I thought could be gone if his second season went the same way as his first, but he turned things around and was one of the better players on the defensive side of the ball throughout 2014. Kruger ended up with 11.5 sacks and he was one of the only players, if not the only, who applied consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

6. The Baby Backs

You may know them by their given names Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, but together they were known throughout the season as the Baby Backs. And while each of them had some issues during their rookie year, they both showed enough flashes that I think we can all be satisfied with the running back position going into next season. The talent is obvious and as long they can clean up their respective problems the Browns will have a great 1-2 punch for the foreseeable future.

5. Mike Pettine

There were definitely mistakes made by the Browns rookie Head Coach, but he is someone that I have to put in this top ten. I’m positive that I will have much more on Pettine in the very near future, but for now I’ll slot him right smack in the middle of this list. There are almost certainly other coaches that we all would have liked the Browns to have hired the past few years using hindsight, but we ended up with Mike Pettine. And I have to say that I have a much better feeling in my gut regarding him than I had for all of his predecessors dating back to Butch Davis. I love his honesty, I love his relatability, and I love the type of program that he’s trying to build here. I’m only hoping that he gets the time needed to build that program.

4. Joe Thomas

Joe Thomas, Pro Bowl, All Pro. Rinse, wash, repeat. The Browns veteran left tackle caught a lot of flack for having a down season and nearing the end of his career as an elite lineman. This Browns columnist would like to tell you that that is all a steaming pile of crap. Sure, he may not have had his best season, but let’s remember that his best season ranks among the elite for the entire history of the NFL. Rumors of his demise are far, far exaggerated and we should all continue to count our lucky stars that we have him on our team. Here’s hoping that he actually gets to play in the postseason before his Hall of Fame career ends.

3. Joel Bitonio

It would make sense that the high second round draft pick that practically no one in Cleveland had ever heard of would be higher on this list than the future Hall of Famer that he played next to, right? In Browns world, of course it would. The pick of Bitonio either enraged fans because he wasn’t a wide receiver or befuddled fans because they had no clue who he was. There really wasn’t much in between, me included. I fell into the second category, but instantly fell in love with the guy after listening to his conference call after the second day of the Draft and reading up on him. And then he went out and had himself a fantastic rookie season at left guard. He’s the kind of person you want in the locker room, and judging by his first year with the Browns he’s also the kind of player you want on the field. Barring injury, you can set it in stone that he’ll be playing in some Pro Bowls and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he’s the guy who ends up taking over at left tackle when Joe Thomas calls it quits.

2. The Secondary

Again, this is kind of cheating. I had three players that definitely needed to be mentioned, and a couple others who were close to making the list. But, for the sake of not leaving out some of the others, I have combined them all and will talk about them as a unit. The Browns secondary in 2014 contained two players who made the Pro Bowl in Joe Haden and Tashaun Gipson, two steadfast veterans who played well in Buster Skrine and Donte Whitner, and a surprising undrafted rookie who was fantastic before getting hurt in K’Waun Williams.

I mainly wanted to make sure that Haden, Gipson, and Williams were mentioned, but it seems fitting for me to include the unit as a whole. Gipson had his coming out party this year, leading the league in interceptions before suffering a season ending injury, and K’Waun Williams was an incredibly pleasant surprise, vastly outplaying first round pick Justin Gilbert.

But mostly, I have to talk about Joe Haden. After a slow start that could probably be attributed to being banged up out of the gate and adjusting to the new restrictive rules for defenders, Haden played at as high a level as anyone could given the restrictions on defensive backs in today’s NFL. To put it much more simply, Joe Haden was out of this world fantastic and showed why he continues to be among the best at his position in all of the NFL. He came up with a couple of the more ridiculous pass break ups and interceptions that you’ll ever see and, as far as I can tell, continues to be a great presence in the locker room. I should probably qualify everything I write about him with the fact that he will probably go down as one of my favorite Cleveland athletes of all time, but I won’t right now because his play on the field doesn’t need any qualifiers.

1. Alex Mack

I stewed over whether the secondary or Mack should earn the number one spot on this list. After all, the secondary encompassed a half dozen players who ranged from fantastic to good, had two Pro Bowl nominations, and a myriad of other points for other players going for it. As much of a cop out as it may have been, part of me couldn’t see how anything from the 2014 Browns could top the resume of that unit.

But then there was that other part of me. The part that saw the offense in the first five games before Alex Mack went down with a season ending injury. The part that saw an offensive line, a unit, and an entire team that could impose their will on any team and dictate the tempo. The same part of me that saw a team with a new identity that could play with any team in the league, and was winning more than they were losing.

Sadly, that part of me, and all parts of me really, were slowly devastated in the weeks and months following Mack’s injury. Sure, there were some wins against bad teams and a few good performances against playoff bound squads, but for all intents and purposes the season ended when Alex Mack was carted off the field in October during the bludgeoning of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I would never have believed that a center could have such a monumental impact on a team. Hell, I think I even wrote as much last offseason when talking about whether the Browns should keep T.J. Ward or Mack. But I have never seen an injury, aside from a quarterback, affect a team as much as Mack’s injury did to the Browns. I honestly still can’t believe how staggering the difference was. I’ll have more on this in the next few weeks, but there is not a shred of doubt in my mind that Alex Mack was the most valuable player on the Browns in 2014. There’s no way we would have ever known it had he not gotten hurt and had he stayed healthy it would have certainly been someone else.

But, unfortunately for all of us, he did get hurt. His season was ended prematurely. And the team went into a tailspin that was impressive even for the Browns. And a center who didn’t even play five games ends up atop my list of the best of the 2014 Cleveland Browns. It’s almost unbelievable.


A Cleveland Browns Thanksgiving

After years of mediocrity, it finally looks like (knock on wood) Cleveland Browns fans have a team they can be thankful for and proud of this year. It hasn’t always been pretty, but the team is currently 7-4 and right in the thick of the playoff hunt. All of this got some of the Browns writers here at More Than A Fan: Cleveland thinking, what should the Cleveland Browns be thankful for this year? Here is what we came up with.

Dave Jack

-For starters, the Browns as an organization should still be thankful for the Indianapolis Colts. While the current administration had nothing to do with executing the Trent Richardson deal, they certainly did benefit from it. It’s far too early to determine whether the trade ultimately worked out in their favor, but the added first round pick allowed the Browns flexibility to move around in that round and do what they wanted.

-To piggyback off of that, Ray Farmer and company should propose a Thanksgiving toast to Joe Banner. Banner wasn’t perfect, but he did have the foresight to stockpile draft picks for the 2014 NFL Draft (much to the detriment of the 2013 draft), one that he predicted (so far, correctly) would have much more talent. He also left the new regime in a very good position financially.

-We found out the hard way that everyone should be thankful for center Alex Mack. The offensive line as a whole took a noticeable step back in the couple games following his injury. This was no doubt partly due to chemistry, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that was it. Joe Thomas is probably the better lineman at a more integral position, but Mack was the general and possibly the best run blocker out of the bunch. Missing him shows that Mack is worth every penny of his $42 million contract.

Andy Metzger

First and foremost, the Browns should be thankful for the defensive secondary unit. If it hadn’t been for their stellar play all season, the Browns record would be much different. The secondary has collected 13 total interceptions this season, led by Tashaun Gipson with six of them. Joe Haden has played lights out this season and is earning that big contract. While he had early struggles, Justin Gilbert has shown tremendous progress the last few games and made a huge pass defense against the Falcons in a tight game. It is because of the secondary unit that Brian Hoyer has had extra opportunities per game.

Second, the Browns should be thankful for Johnny Manziel *ducks*. Now, hear me out on this. When the Browns selected Johnny Manziel in the first round in the draft, the Browns suddenly became a relevant team in the NFL in the eyes of the national media. With that, Brian Hoyer knew he needed to work his butt off to be the starting QB of the Cleveland Browns. This is just speculation, but I assume Hoyer also brought his game up on the intangibles that rookies have a hard time with. Namely, leadership. There’s no doubt that Brian Hoyer is the leader of the offense. He has command of the huddle and the respect of his peers. Sometimes it is that confidence that boosts your game to another level. The Browns should be thankful for Johnny Manziel, it lit a fire under Brian Hoyer. I just hope his inconsistent passes don’t lock us out of the playoffs *ducks*.

Last, but certainly not least, the Browns should be thankful for Ray Farmer. More specifically, Ray Farmer and his scout team. Where older regimes refused to bring in free agents because “they’re free agents for a reason,” Ray Farmer brought in Donte Whitner, Karlos Dansby, Jim Dray, Ben Tate, Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins. As for the draft, they snagged Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel, Joel Bitonio, Christian Kirksey, Terrance West, Pierre Desir as well as gaining extra 2015 1st, 4th and a 6th round draft pics. For undrafted rookies, the Browns collected an impressive haul that are major contributors on both sides of the ball. Cleveland signed Ray Agnew, Isaiah Crowell, Taylor Gabriel and K’Waun Williams. Without the players Ray Farmer signed, this would be a very different looking team. So, not only the Browns, but I, too, am thankful for Ray Farmer and his scout team. They did a fantastic job in the first year and cannot wait to see what they can do in the years to come.

Nico Ericksen-Deriso

Local(ish) High Schools – With four players from the Youngstown and Cleveland areas, the Browns ought to be thankful for the local talent that has reached them. Brian Hoyer went to high school at local powerhouse St. Ignatius. After spending time working behind Tom Brady in New England, Hoyer has emerged in Cleveland to lead the team’s offense, racking up 2864 yards through the air on a 55.9% completion rate to go along with 11 touchdowns thus far this year. On defense, one of his counterparts is also a Cleveland native. Donte Whitner attended Glenville High School before heading to Ohio State. In his first year with the Browns, he has been instrumental so far, finding himself second on the team in tackles with 73. He also has an interception and a forced fumble to go along. Two Browns linemen hail from the Youngstown area: Ishmaa’ily Kitchen on defense, and John Greco on offense. Kitchen attended Cardinal Mooney High before pursuing a career in the NFL. After seeing little time on the field in September, Kitchen has stepped up to the tune of 23 tackles since Week 6 as injuries have slowly decimated the Browns’ defensive line. On the other hand, John Greco, who attended Boardman High in Youngstown, has started every game for the Browns this season, primarily at right guard.
A Kyle Shanahan Offense – Shanahan’s offense has created a functional unit for the Browns. Despite losing one of their best players in Alex Mack, Cleveland has still been able to produce at a greater rate than last year, often powered to victory on the backs of their duo of rookie running backs and Hoyer’s mistake-minimizing arm. However, I can’t say that this has been all good, as their have been a few games when the offense has just straight up failed. However, overall, Shanahan’s presence in Cleveland has been a blessing.
The Cincinnati Bengals – “Wait what?! The Bengals? That makes so much sense, being thankful for one of our rivals and the division leader. Except not!”…Well, if you really think about it, it does. The Browns have three big reasons to be thankful for the Bengals. First off, former Bengal Andrew Hawkins leads the team in receiving with 50 receptions for 694 yards and two touchdowns. Secondly, the Bengals were kind enough to drop a huge deuce on Thursday Night Football. And lastly, the Bengals were dumb enough to help make sure the Browns improved this year by signing Greg “Brickhand” Little, guaranteeing that Cleveland’s worst nightmare would never haunt the team again. As hard as it is to admit, the Browns owe the Bengals a polite nod at dinner this Thanksgiving.

Stephen Thomas

I’m thankful that Mike Smith knows less about clock management than Andy Reid.

I’m thankful for reactionary Browns fans on Twitter, who handle each third down failure and incomplete pass with the grace and tact of a sorority girl in a zombie apocalypse movie.

I’m thankful for Joel Bitonio and Joe Thomas, who could block their way out of Nakatomi Plaza.

I’m thankful for Steelers fans, because as Judge Smails said in Caddyshack “The world needs ditch diggers, too.”

Ryan Jones

Mike Pettine – I routinely make jokes about the corpses that have roamed the sidelines for the Cleveland Browns over the past two or so decades, but know that I make those jokes in the most masochistic way imaginable. It kills me every time that I do it, but I think we might just be able to move on from all of that. Granted, Mike Pettine has had a couple time management blunders during his rookie campaign, but I get the feeling that he is an actual NFL caliber head coach. It’s a relatively small sample size but I’m absolutely loving him at the helm of my team thus far.

Josh Gordon – Quite simply the most talented football player that I have ever seen play for the Browns during my lifetime. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Josh Gordon was the singular reason that I was able to watch and enjoy the second half of last season. He is that good. And the Browns were that bad. There were quite a few local media members who advocated for his release this offseason. You most likely won’t hear them address that, but you will hear me reaffirm my love of Josh Gordon and the fact that I wrote a series of articles championing the fact that releasing him would have been a disastrous mistake. Seeing number twelve out on the field in Brown and Orange might just be the best thing in my life right now. Please don’t tell my girlfriend.

Seven and four. Seven wins and four losses. Seven wins at Thanksgiving and a team that is squarely in the mix for a playoff spot. I’m sorry, but after the putrid and depressing football that I have been subjected to my entire life, that is definitely the thing that I am most thankful for. Again, please don’t let my girlfriend or loved ones read this. Or, actually, let them read this. They know I have an irrational love for this football team. They’ll understand. All of us understand. Or, at least, should. The Browns have a huge game against Buffalo on Sunday, and they are poised to enter the month of December fighting for the division and the playoffs. How can we not be thankful for that?


As you can see, the Browns organization has a lot to be thankful for. One consensus among all of the writers was that the Browns should be thankful for their fans. These are fans who have stuck it out through multiple two, three and four win seasons. Fans who have begged just to have a team with a .500 record. Fans who can boast that they are some of the best fans in the NFL, as well as the most numerous.

The staff at More Than A Fan: Cleveland would like to wish all of you, our readers, a very Happy Thanksgiving. Even if you’ve only read one post or disagree with everything we say on a regular basis, we are still thankful for taking the time to do so.

Happy Thanksgiving

Browns Fantasy Football Update Week 13

After a huge win on the road against the Falcons the Browns improved to 7-4 but remained in last place.. This week we go up against Buffalo Bills who have a tough defense, that could be aided by the weather. After that we have tough games against the Colts and Ravens. It will be a tough road to the playoffs, but anything is possible.

QB- Brian Hoyer: Is starting to become less careful with the ball, which really concerns me. It really makes Hoyer a risky play against the Bills. Consider benching him this week if you are in a 2 QB league.

RB- Isaiah Crowell- It appears that the Browns finally have an official bell cow ( bell crow?) running back. Since the Browns love running it in goal line Crowelll will be a RB 1 most weeks. This week may be a challenge as the Bills have allowed the third fewest fantasy points to RBs all season.

RB- Terrance West: It almost feels certain that West is now the second RB on the depth chart. Seems like a risky flex start this week.

WR- Josh Gordon- He should only get better as his chemistry with Hoyer improves. Could be scary good down the stretch.

WR- Andrew Hawkins- Hawkins still has value unless Jordan Cameron starts taking some of his targets. Very valuable WR in real life.

WR- Taylor Gabriel- Not worth owning in any league any more with the return of Gordon.

TE- Jordan Cameron- Should play this week, but the Bills are very good at stopping TEs.

K- Billy Cundiff- Last weeks big game put Cundiff right back to the middle of the pack as he is 16th in the NFL among kickers in fantasy.

DEF- The Buffalo weather and strong defenses on both ends could make this game a low scoring turnover affair. A good pick to start this week.

Browns Fantasy Football Update Week 12

This game against the Falcons is very interesting for a number of reasons. For one this is a classic first vs worst matchup, but the team in first is 4-6 while the team in last in the dvision is 6-4. Another reason this game is strange is because this is the Falcons first home game in Atlanta since week 6. And finally we’ll see the return of Flash Gordon going against the worst pass defense in the NFL. This should be a very interesting must win game for the Browns.

QB- Brian Hoyer: For those in the “Bench Hoyer” camp here are 3 stats that show what Hoyer has been doing well this year.

1. His adjusted yards per attempt ( Just like Yards per attempt but bonuses for Touchdowns and deductions for picks) is 6.5, good for 3rd in the NFL, only behind Rodgers and Manning.

2. Out of all QBs with 200 or more attempts Brian Hoyer is second in the NFL in Air Yards per attempt. Air yards are all of a QBs passing yards minus the Receivers yards after catch (YAC).

3. Only 39% of Hoyers passing yards were from YAC. This number along with his raw passing totals, should go up with the return of Josh Gordon.

And in fantasy he remains a QB2 with a bit more potential this week going up against a week Atlanta defense.

RB- Terrance West: The Browns RB puzzle got a litte easier now that Ben Tate has been released. It seems that West and Crowell will split carries amongst themselves. Sadly the issue of who’s going to get more carries, remains. Seems like a solid flex option for right now.

RB- Isaiah Crowell- Crowell had a decent game last week other than a costly fumble. Might get more carries than West but who knows. A high upside flex this week aggainst an awful run defense.

WR- Andrew Hawkins- Don’t really feel his targets will be affected drastically as Hawkins is more an underneath threat while Godon is more of a vertical. Still safe to start in PPR formats.

WR- Taylor Gabriel- Had 13 targets last week, but I expect that number to drop significantly with the return of Gordon.

WR- Josh Gordon- What better week for him to return than against the Falcons who have the NFL’s worst pass defense?

TE- Jordan Cameron- Could come back this week, but it doesn’t seem likely. Might not be worth keeping anymore.

K- Billy Cundiff- Had a 0 point game last week. Still ranked 21st in the NFL in Fantasy points.

DEF- The Falcons offense is usually good at home, so they are a risky start this week.

Bridging the Gap: The Midweek Report, Week 10

When the Cincinnati Bengals roll into town in Week 15, there is one thing that I’ll be listening for from our home crowd. It is a chant that should sound something like this:

“Two-point-oh … Two-point oh … Two-point-oh”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the incredible and rarely-paralleled passer rating that Andy Dalton put up a week ago today. That, ladies and gentlemen, is also the lowest passer rating that a QB attempting at least 30 passes has posted since former New York Giants QB Scott Brunner finished with a 2.0 in a contest against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1983. Yep, that’s right folks. No quarterback has been given the opportunity to play that poorly for so long in a game since St. Louis was the home of two Cardinals teams (which, by the way, is real confusing in my opinion; why would you do that to yourself as a city? It’s just silly). At first I really was questioning why Marvin Lewis would keep an obviously useless Dalton in the game so long. But then I realized that Jason Campbell is Cincy’s backup, so…well, yeah, I don’t even need to explain that one.

Anyway, I think I am done ragging on the Bengals. Everyone witnessed the schellacking that took place, so I don’t need to go into it that much. Instead, I’m going to take this time to rag on myself:

Wow, Wow, Wow was I wrong!!! So so so so so so wrong!!!

Let me just show you a few direct quotes from my article last week:

I’m going to come out and say that the Browns have no running game anymore….We have no functional offense anymore….Thus, realistically, the Browns have very little chance of coming out on top tonight.”

“I think it is safe to expect a repeat of Jacksonville.” 

Yeah, my bad y’all. I was a bit off. I mean I’m really glad that I was wrong in this case, just a bit embarrassed to be. First off, the run game put up a very respectable 170 yards, so it is a bit hard to stand by the claim that we have no run game anymore. And then we obviously came out on top as well, so that was wrong too. In a way though it was a repeat of Jacksonville though. Just with the Browns acting as Jacksonville this time around. So I guess, at least when you take that quote out of context, I was actually on to something. Good work Nico. Self-five.

However, despite the running game getting going against the Bengals, I still am quite worried for this upcoming week for a few reasons:

– First, the Texans are coming off a bye, which means that they have had two weeks to prepare to take on the Browns, something that is always a little scary. However, this effect is somewhat lessened by the fact that the Browns had a long week this week after playing on Thursday.

– Second, JJ Watt is a scary scary human being. And Jadeveon Clowney is basically fully healthy again. And I still have doubts about our offensive line and running game. So, basically, my doubts from last week still, at least to an extent, hold for this week. The run game should be able to move the ball, but not on the level that they did last week. Plus, Brian Hoyer will not have much (if any) time in the pocket this week, so there is going to be high pressure on the receivers to get open quickly. Andrew Hawkins should be back this week though, which will be great as it will allow Kyle Shanahan the opportunity to utilize a game plan that features a fair number of quick dump-offs to both Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel. It is still unclear if Jordan Cameron will be returning this week, but in his absence both Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge should be able to handle things.

– Third, safety Tashaun Gipson may well be forced to miss the game due to concussion-like symptoms, leaving our defense without the league leader in interceptions. Houston QB Ryan Mallet has a monster arm, so having the slower and older Jim Leonhard, who can’t cover nearly as much ground as Gipson, in could possibly leave a few holes in the deep areas of the field. Considering the fact that the Texans’ run game is among the top 5 in the league and the Browns may have to stuff the box a little to slow it down, I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least a couple of big plays deep downfield off the play-action. These types of plays tend to swing momentum in a game, meaning they could be quite bad for the Browns.

After last week though, I can’t help but be hopeful. The Browns are in first place in the AFC North and have been playing like they deserve it. Houston is most definitely a beatable team, and I believe that the Browns will be able to win this game, albeit not in quite as convincing of a manner as last week:

Prediction: Browns 27 – Texans 20

Browns Fantasy Football Week 11

The Browns are in sole position of first place! The great news continues when you see that the Browns next game is against the Texans breaking in new QB Ran Mallett, and Josh Gordon’s return the next week. It’s a great time to be a Brown’s fan but some players will be hurt when Josh Gordon returns.

QB- Brian Hoyer: Had his second game without a TD but besides for these 2 games he’s been a very consistent QB2.

RB- Ben Tate: It’s officially a 3 man rotation for the Browns running backs. Tate seems like he’s on the bottom for now especially since his comments about being displeased with his role. Still a threat to score in goal line and our best pass catching back.

RB- Terrance West: Carried the rock 26 times for a respectable 94 yards. right now he seems like a risky RB2 just because we have no real idea how many carries he’ll have going. Has a decent matchup against Houston’s soft run defense.

RB- Isaiah Crowell- Nice to see him get a TD. Not sure if it will be him or Ben Tate who will get the secondary touches this week.

WR- Andrew Hawkins- Is now hurt. Which really sucks because he was definitely our best receiver. Even Pat McManoman said he was the team MVP. Once he gets healthy he could still be worth owning in PPR leagues as a WR4 even when Josh Gordon comes back. Gordon could even stretch the field giving an underneath guy like Hawkins more looks.

WR- Taylor Gabriel- Gabriel has been a hot add recently but I don’t feel he’s worth it. Good receiver in real life but doesn’t get the opportunities in fantasy.

WR- Josh Gordon- 1 more week and he’s back. I fear he will under perform in a new offense, but some people like Sage Rosenfels think he can be really good.

TE- Jordan Cameron- Is questionable for the game against Houston. Not sure what his role will be like once Gordon comes back.

K- Billy Cundiff- If you are in a 2 kicker league like I am he’s worth owning.

DEF- Should be a viable play in Ryan Mallett’s first start. And can we appreciate Tashaun Gipson more. He is literally the best safety in the league according to win probability added and expected points added.

Bridging the Gap: The Midweek Report, Week 8

It’s nice seeing a win. Or actually, I should say that it’s nice to see that the Browns won. Unfortunately, I had to spend the weekend working on a project in Washington DC, so I was unable to tune into the game and watch the Browns come out on top. On the bright side though, y’all will be spared my rambling about what went wrong, who I was disappointed with, and what needs to be improved looking forward. So instead I will just touch on a bit of other Browns news from the past few days, as well as give a short preview of this weekend’s game:

– The loss of Jordan Cameron (again) is big. But how big? While Gary Barnidge and Jim Dray have performed well when they have been targeted (5 catches for 54 yards on 8 targets and 9 catches on 11 targets for 118 yards and a touchdown, respectively), neither can really be considered a receiving tight end in the way that Cameron is. Although he has been relatively quiet and ineffective this season so far, his loss for the next game or two will have a significant impact on the offense. Brian Hoyer has been struggling over the past few weeks, and with no running game to lean on ever since the loss of Alex Mack, he has started to lean more heavily on Cameron. If the running game repeats last week (25 carries for 39 yards) against the Buccaneers on Sunday, then this game will be quite ugly for Cleveland. Although Andrew Hawkins has been playing well, Miles Austin has been consistently making key plays, and Taylor Gabriel has been out-performing everyone’s wildest expectations, an offense that expects to be successful and consistently move the chains while depending just on those three players is not at all realistic. The running game needs to step back up to early season form this week in order to make up for the absence of Cameron, otherwise a repeat of Jacksonville should be expected.

– Defensive Coordinator Jim O’Neill has instituted a really cool system in the Browns’ locker room. Each defensive player has been given a dog collar that hangs in their locker. For each “Play Like A Brown” play they make during a game, they are gifted a dog bone to hang from their collars. Now, I’m not quite sure what the heck a “Play Like A Brown” play is or means, but I love this idea. Being the overly competitive freak that I am, the idea of receiving some type of little reward to symbolize my dominance and success at whatever I am doing is beautiful. This type of system creates a lot of healthy competition among players in the locker room, as each tries to outplay and outdo the others in order to win a bone. Although systems like this could potentially be detrimental to a team’s on-field cooperation, the way this system is set up has the opposite effect. From my understanding, a “Play Like A Brown” play doesn’t only refer to things like sacks or forced turnovers, but also can refer to acts such as absorbing multiple blockers at the line of scrimmage or successfully disrupting the timing of a receiver and causing the quarterback to make a poor pass or decision. This kind of system enhances the functionality of a squad by successfully incentivizing players to create opportunities for their teammates to make big plays and get the glory, thus making the team as a whole better. The other added benefit, at least in my eyes, of this system is that it gives players extra reason to play hard even when they are comfortably ahead in a game and have room to relax a little. Similarly, it incentivizes players to continue to give it their all even when the came seems out of reach, helping create the opportunities for comebacks like the one that occurred against the Tennessee Titans. Basically, what I am trying to say here is props to O’Neill for coming up with a brilliant and simple system to keep his players invested in playing well.

– As for this week, the Browns face a third bottom-dweller in a row. With injuries really hindering them right now, this is quite fortunate for the Browns. Sitting only one game out of first place in the division, this game is a must win for the Browns, and realistically it is one that they can and should take. The Buccaneers have been spectacularly bad this year, with what was lauded as a talented defense falling disgustingly short of expectations. Lavonte David has been playing very well, already having racked up 80 tackles on the year, while Gerald McCoy has also been performing at a high level. But two players do not make a defense, and there have been times where it has appeared that they were the only two actually on the field. Unfortunately for them, their offense has been nearly as poor as their defense, with the passing unit ranked 28th this year while the ground attack is 29th. Doug Martin has been a non-factor this year, and Vincent Jackson has been disappointing all season as well. The Browns defense should be able to continue to come up with turnovers this week, and a weakened offense should be able to do enough against a poor defense to give the Browns the victory this week:

Prediction: Browns 27 – Bucs 13

Rapid React: Browns 23 Raiders 13

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You’re not allowed to gripe about a win. That’s a rule. Browns fans have gotten so few of these things called victory over the last 15+ years that you have to appreciate every instance of adding a number to the win column.

In the end, the offense was able to take advantage of opportunities and punch the ball into the endzone. The final nail in the coffin came when Ben Tate scored from five yards out to put the home team up 23-6, completing his 15 carry 26 yard day on the ground. Ugly is just the way it has to be for this team. For a team that was supposed to feature their running game, there is nothing but shame in a first half total of 17 rushing yards.

127Raiders Browns Football

Tate’s scoring run marked the second time they found the endzone in the fourth quarter, an intriguing development in these eyes that didn’t believe they were capable of scoring touchdowns without the aid of Alex Mack. Cleveland was held to six points in four quarters in Jacksonville a week ago.

It appeared they’d only score in increments of three before Joe Haden’s fumble return set them up for an Andrew Hawkins touchdown catch from 4 yards away. His first touchdown in a Browns uniform came early in the fourth quarter and gave the Browns a slightly more comfortable 16-6 lead. At the very least, fans should be happy with the big win in the turnover battle. They turned all three takeaways into point, 17 in all.

For the first time all season, we were somewhat sold on the defense. Sure, they gave up more first downs (19) than we’d care to see anyone surrender to Oakland, but the unit didn’t play down to the lesser opponent. Derek Carr gashed them for 328 yards, but they made plays without making penalties and avoided the big play.

The Raiders were kept out of the endzone until Andre Holmes brought the game back to within two possessions with seven ticks left on the clock, but it was only about changing numbers on the scoreboard at that point. The Browns had already won the game.

Brian Hoyer didn’t have an ultra-inspiring performance. A great deal of his 275 yards in the air should be credited to the legs of his speedy receivers. He is definitely favoring Jordan Cameron as a target, and it’s hard to discourage that strategy, but the dynamic tight end left in the second quarter with a possible concussion. His status is unknown at this point

Without Cameron and a competent running game, it leaves us to wonder what the Browns can possibly do on offense in the coming weeks. They’ll play 3 games in 12 days. For now, they should probably just enjoy the win.

Browns Fantasy Football Update Week 8

After the Browns got manhandled by one of the worst teams in the NFL last week, now the Browns looks to bounce back against the awful Raiders at home. My forecast is positive in general, as I believe that their loss against Jacksonville will light a fire from beneath them that will help them to perform better in both the real world and the fantasy world in Week 8.

QB- Brian Hoyer: Where on earth did last week’s performance come from. After posting double digit points in each of his first five games Hoyer posted a 4. However I feel that Hoyer will bounceback strong against a weak Oakland defense.

QB- Johnny Manziel- Unless Hoyer blows it against the Raiders there is no reason to own him.

RB- Ben Tate: Ben Tate was the primary back against the Jaguars taking 16 carries, But unfortunately he only netted 38 yards. it will be interesting to see if the line can have more success in the next couple games despite not having stalwart center Alex Mack.

RB- Terrance West: Terrance West was a healthy scratch against the Steelers. I don’t know what he did but there is no need to hold the Brown’s third string RB unless someone gets hurt.

RB- Isaiah Crowell- Crowell had 7 carries against Jacksonville for a paltry 18 yards. Really think this lackluster performance was more about the offensive line play rather than his talent. If this line improves he will continue to be a valuable commodity.

WR- Andrew Hawkins- If it weren’t for his 64 yard reception the Browns passing numbers that game would’ve gone from bad to abysmal. Got a lot of targets at Jacksonville and still appears to be the Browns number one receiver.

WR- Miles Austin- Had 8 targets but was only able to convert them into 53 yards. Has yet to score while Ben Tate has been playing. Still not worth owning.

WR- Travis Benjamin- Had his first shutout last week.

WR- Taylor Gabriel- Had 7 targets last week and has a tendency to go deep. Shouldn’t get picked up in any league but he is worth watching.

TE- Jordan Cameron- If only Hoyer hit him when he was open in the endzone. (sigh) Cameron will bounceback and put up mid to low TE1 numbers for the rest of the year.

K- Billy Cundiff- The best kicker in modern Browns history not named Phil is only the 23rd best kicker in fantasy so far this year.

DEF- The Browns defense looked great against the Jaguars but should look even better at home versus the Raiders.